THE HUNGER HEROES: MISSED MEAL MAYHEM Nominated for an OTTER Award!

You might’ve already seen this on my social media feeds, but just in case you haven’t, I’m thrilled to share here that…

The Hunger Heroes: Missed Meal Mayhem was nominated for a Washington State OTTER Award!

Here’s the official announcement:

While EVERY award nomination is a huge honor, this one is especially meaningful because of the specifics of the award and how the nominee list is formed.

First of all, the OTTER Award focuses on books in a unique and, I believe, important and often under-appreciated space, one where young readers often get “lost.” This is what’s commonly called the “transitional” space — the area between picture books and beginning readers and longer, more complex chapter books. While this is beginning to change now, for too long there just haven’t been enough high quality, high interest books in this transitional space. And it’s in this space that kids are often asked to — and usually want to — begin reading independently. That “loss” I mentioned comes about because the leap from picture books and beginning readers to longer, more complex chapter books is a big one. Lots of kids — if not MOST kids — would be far better served by some sort of “bridge,” or at least a handful of “stepping stones” along the way to more easily traverse that gap. THIS is where the “transitional” books come in. It’s a space I love dearly, a space I am passionate about, and maybe because of all that, it’s also a space I find a lot of my work naturally fitting in.

The other amazing thing about the OTTER Award? It’s based, in large part, on kid approval. Here it is, verbatim, from the Washington Library Association’s website:

By focusing this award list on books kids like, not books adults think kids should like, more children across the state will be reading and talking about literature. Nominees will be vetted by child readers so that all titles have a kid stamp of approval.

I mean, COME ON. Is there anything better? For years, every chance I get, I’ve been saying that we need to make kids a part of the decision-making processes behind the creation and curation of their books, and I’ve done all that I can to make that happen. After all, these books that we’re making and sharing and working so hard to get into their hands are FOR them. Any endeavor that doesn’t, at the very least, take them into consideration is inherently flawed. But the fact that the Washington librarians who created and serve on the committee for the OTTER Award include kids to this extent shows just how awesome they are. They really, truly GET it.

And it’s why, as I said before, this honor is an especially meaningful one. Not only has this group of librarians singled out my book as an exemplary one, it’s also been given that official “kid stamp of approval.” So, thank you to the committee members for considering and honoring my book in this way, and THANK YOU to the kids who considered it, too, and gave it their stamp of approval, pushing it over the finish line and getting it this nomination.

Check out the other OTTER Award nominees below — all of which are EXCELLENT — and visit the Washington Library Association’s OTTER Award page HERE.

~ Jarrett

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